Driving through Fog - Guide for a Safe Return
As for any driving situation you may encounter, there are a few tips for driving through fog, tips which, if applied, can make the experience both less scary and safer. What you will read below can be applied for every type of fog there is, be it a soft wave of mist or a consistent white cloud.
Getting Ready for Fog Driving Conditions
Well, sorry, there's no real preparation you can undertake to be ready when the fog comes. It has an annoying tendency of coming out of the clear blue sky. What you can do is check, before going on a trip, if your car is road worthy. Most importantly, check that all the car's lights are working properly. While driving, listen to weather conditions on the local stations, especially if the area you are traveling through is know for this type of phenomena.
What to Do
You may be tempted, in the heat of the moment, to turn on the high beams. Don't. It is a very bad idea, especially at night. Contrary to what you may think, the stronger the light, the worse the visibility. Vapors in the fog make the beam bounce back and, instead of providing greater visibility, it actually shortens your range of sight.
The human being has five senses. So don't rely entirely on your sight while traveling through fog. Turn off the music, roll down the window a bit and listen to what you can't see. It's an effective way of assessing where another car is and where it is heading. And plus, there's no feeling like driving in the dark, through fog, with the window down and in utter silence.
Having a car in front is a big help in case of fog. You can easily follow its lights in order to guide yourself, but do not abandon your fate in the hands of the other driver. Use his/her lights as a secondary guide and don't take everything the car in front does for granted. Remember, however, that those behind you may not be so fog-literate and might take your car for their personal tour guide. So, no sudden moves, no sudden brakes, no unnecessary overtakes.
Should your car be unable to complete the journey, don't panic. Pull to the side of the road, as far from the lane as you can and stop. Some Internet guides tell you to turn all lights off and take the foot off the brake, so that the cars behind do not mistake you for a moving vehicle. This idea raises another issue: you will basically become invisible. So, turn the lights off (including fog lights), take the foot of the brake but keep the emergency lights running. Moving away from your impaired vehicle would be a good idea.
Fog? How Bad Can It Be?
Bad... If you think fog is a phenomenon not worthy of your attention, think again.
On December 11, 1990, 12 people died and another 42 were injured in a 99-vehicle pile-up in Calhoun, Tennessee. The reason? Heavy fog.
In 1995, on March 20, 200 vehicles were involved in a fog related pile-up in Mobile, Alabama. One man was killed and another 90 injured. Across the Ocean, in the UK, the M42 motorway witnessed a 160 vehicle pile-up, 3 people getting killed and another 60 injured as a result.
On January 9, 2008, Florida's interstate witnessed a 70-vehicle pile-up, which resulted in four people getting killed and 38 other injured. The reason? Unexpected fog, mixed with an environmental burn by the Florida Wildlife Commission. And the list goes on, and on, and on...
Punch line? Be careful how you drive through fog, but pay even more attention to how others do.